[MOVIE REVIEW]Lots of Style, Little Substance

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Lots of Style, Little Substance

Tom Hanks, a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actor in 1993 and 1994, is worried about the three-dimensional film "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within." Reportedly, Hanks, who is first-rate among living, breathing actors, has found new competitors: digitally produced cyber actors.

The computer-animated "Final Fantasy" is based on the computer game of the same name, which has sold more than 30 million copies around the world. The film, directed, written and produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the game, is to be released Friday in Korea.

With a budget of $150 million, which exceeds that of "Pearl Harbor," "Final Fantasy" does an amazing job displaying how the computer technology can go. It's not hard to tell that the astronomical budget must have been spent mostly on creating these larger-than-life cyber characters. And the hyper-realistic appearance of muscles, skin and even hairs seems well worth the money spent.

The problem, however, is that Mr. Sakaguchi should have splurged more on making the plot itself more intriguing. Though the film is sure to excite young cyber enthusiasts with its cutting edge computer graphic technology, it just cannot impress the critics. The plot might remind viewers of the classic "Alien" series. It is A.D. 2065 and the earth is predictably being threatened by phantoms. Our heroes appear: a female scientist, Doctor Aki Ross (voice by Ming-na Wen) and her friend Gray, a soldier (voice by Alec Baldwin). The director tries to save the film from entirely following the Hollywood sci-fi movie formula by including the Gaia theory, a belief that everything has a spirit. Aki Ross, who is fatally ill from exposure to phantoms, comes to the conclusion that phantoms have a spirit just like every other being. But these attempts to deepen the plot only make the story more perplexing, leaving the audience bored for the second half of the film.

One thing seems to be clear: compared to another recent video game vixen, Angelina Jolie in "Tomb Raider," who concentrated primarily on shoot-em-up scenes, Doctor Aki Ross, a cyber actress whose mind is full of confusing plans to save the world, is a little dull. "Tomb Raider" was a real film version of the game, and more than one million and a half Koreans saw the movie.

Well, Tom, it seems that you don't have to worry about the new competitors; after all, they are only "fantasy."

by Chun Su-jin

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